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Friday, May 23, 2008

No One Hates Like a Poet Hates…

posted by on May 23 at 11:07 AM

… and no poet hated himself more than Philip Larkin. He’s the man who wrote:

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.


In a new batch of letters acquired by the British Library, Larkin laments his pasty, oblong visage as resembling “the late Stan Laurel” and “CS Lewis on a drugs charge”—and, my favorite, “an egg sculpted in lard, with goggles on.”

I hate to say it, but I can see the resemblance.

It just goes to show—the worst you can think about yourself is probably true.

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Of all the poetry I read in grad school, The Whitsun Weddings packed more punch into a small volume than any other. He's amazing.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | May 23, 2008 11:17 AM

Happy poets write boring poetry.

Posted by inkweary | May 23, 2008 11:28 AM

All poets write boring poetry.

Posted by had to say it... | May 23, 2008 11:31 AM

Philip Larkin's dad kept a nutcracker in the form of Adolf Hitler on the mantelpiece -- it cracked the nut when it did the "Heil" salute -- and he had a large portrait of the man in his office in Coventry City Hall, where he was Treasurer. They made him take it down after the war started. He attended more than one Nuremberg Rally in Germany. So, yeah, they fuck you up OK.

Larkin's one of my idols. His status is not diminished by the sad, racist ramblings that dribbled out of him in his late years. One of the very few post-Auden poets who goes against @3's unfortunately moistly true dictum.

Posted by Fnarf | May 23, 2008 12:20 PM

Jesus. MOSTLY true, not moistly.

Larkin was a fantastic jazz critic too.

Posted by Fnarf | May 23, 2008 12:22 PM

Also, I would kill for those glasses.

Posted by Fnarf | May 23, 2008 1:09 PM

I would kill for a moistly true dictum.

Posted by Sara | May 23, 2008 1:13 PM

He bears a suspicious resembalence to Richard Deacon (aka Mel Cooley on "The Dick Van Dyke Show").

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | May 23, 2008 4:09 PM

Larkin was a creepy old man, and my first poetic dad. When he was younger he wrote schoolgirl fiction with a soft porn lesbian bent, under the pseudonym Brunette Coleman. I love that.

Posted by Irena | May 23, 2008 4:15 PM

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